Is it a Stout, or a Porter?

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by CT, Jun 2, 2018.

  1. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I hope this is not a dumb question... I love stouts and porters, just don't know what the difference is between them...
    Is it the grain bill, the water profile, the hops used... Or all of the above?

    I am going to be brewing a coffee porter/stout next weekend, I will have to change my recipe from private to shared for proper opinions I guess, but presently hoping to learn what the difference is.
     
  2. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    in the original definition, they are the same beer just one is lighter alcohol and the other is stronger meaning stout was the lighter beer and porter was the stronger but today things have changed and both have evolved , the stout is really dark and thin and porter is all in everything goes kind of beer and could age for a year
     
  3. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    BJCP Guidelines are a great place to find descriptions and specs for all styles:
    https://www.bjcp.org/docs/2015_Guidelines_Beer.pdf
    You'll be able to find the differences between Porters and Stouts (both British and American) and also what distinguishes the various styles of Stouts. A lot of specialty Stouts and Porters featuring coffee or chocolate or any number of other flavors are at least based on one basic style or another.
     
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  4. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

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    Hey CT, I'm in the same boat as you, love me some porters and stouts...as long as you are keeping them simple. None of that coconut concoction stuff!
    I had the same question and from everything I've read, the two styles have a common ancestry but with the passage of time and the popularity of the dark beauty amongst the working class, a new name came about for the strong stuff that Guinness made popular; Stout Porter..or so the story goes. It makes sense to me given how folks have a tendency give things they like a nickname or in the case of commerce, we have a "generic trademark" thing going on. Think about Kleenex for tissues or Band-Aid for plastic adhesive bandages but today as J A points out, we have the BJCP to define the styles now.

    Drink up, God's coming!
     
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  5. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    #5 Mark Farrall, Jun 5, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2018
    There's the current style guides and then there's the history (well my hashed together version from a bunch of reading and podcasts)...

    Porter became the common beer style in England in the 19th century, having started a fair while earlier. It was the everyman beer, a beer for the porters (those emptying the ships of all the wealth coming from the colonies). It was so popular it was also exported all over the world. A bunch of trends pushed people away from the standard dry, average ABV porter including...

    Some pubs would do a different take on the common porter. It'd be sweeter, more alcholic, more smokey, whatever, but in some dimension it would be stronger. And these would be called a stout porter.

    Shipping beer to the colonies led to putting more alochol and hops in the recipe to stop infections that could give you the inconvenience of an exploding barrel maybe blowing a hole in your ship (or at least covering everything in beer). Most of these beers ended up with names other than porter, like tropical stout, baltic porter and russian imperial stout (though RIS is a lot more complicated and full of myth than that).

    Malting technology got better and brewers had access to decently modified grains that were pretty pale.

    So those and probably a bunch more factors, mean that the traditional dry, average ABV porter is relegated to an old man's beer in the first half of the 20th century and finally dies out in the 60s/70s. Then as part of formalising home brewing comps in the US in the 80s the style is included and that gives it the impetus to kick back up as if it had never gone out of fashion.

    So I'm sure there's a fair bit of romance obscuring the facts in that version (especially the tax and economic realities that are generally more important than expected), but that's my current understanding.

    edit: so I'm guessing Guiness goes with the stout styling because they've got a fair amount of the really roasted malts to make it stout in that dimension and to stay popular (avoiding that old man's beer style stigma).
     
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  6. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    That said, porter vs. stout debates are pretty pointless. Baltic porter, imperial porter and a bunch of other combinations are contradictions from a purists view of what was (is?) porter. But who cares if it's a contradiction, if it makes more people try dark beers and expands the number of styles I can get my hands on when I go to a pub you have my undying gratitude.
     
  7. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Wow, now I want to do more research on the history, thanks for a great reply
     
  8. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    If you're interested in the history angle this is a good blog to have a look at - http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/. Full of research and a helping of cantakerousness. He'll also link to some of the others doing research into the history.
     
  9. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    For my money the differences are in the balance of flavours .
    Porters are a softer and milder dark beer with moderate body , some choc or coffee notes but not as all out roasty as a FES .
    As with many beer styles in same family there's overlap between each named style .
     
  10. KC

    KC Active Member

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    That can easily eat up quite a lot of free time.

    Before 1800, the quickest way to judge the quality of a beer was by its color. Darker beers had more alcohol and kept longer in the barrel without spoiling (hops were out of favor at that time in England). But color was expensive to obtain since it used more malt (which was aggressively taxed) and the high OG took longer to brew and ferment. Early London porters were basically a scheme to make beer look darker with less malt and more profit. Brewers did so using non-fermentable adjuncts that also brought the alcohol content down and made it more socially drinkable.

    During the 1810's, the most common adjunct to get 'fake' color was burnt sugar. Burnt sugar is incredibly acrid but the social quality of porter gave London a taste for it over that decade. In 1819 roasted black malt was patented. This patent malt achieved color with fewer steps and better quality than adding adjuncts, while also being less harsh. Plus since the Napoleonic wars were over, malt wasn't taxed so heavily to fund it anymore.
     
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  11. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys
     
  12. Michael_biab

    Michael_biab Member

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    These are some terrific answers on your question. Only thing I'd add is that Terry Foster has a good book on Porter by Brewer's Publications. They have a similar book on Stout by Michael Lewis. Book books have some information on how stouts and porters evolved although I can't recall how much of a comparison to each they make. Good recipes to try as well - cover the full gamut of porters and stouts. Good luck!
     
  13. Aub

    Aub Active Member

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    +1
     

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